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Ferdinand's Relationships in The Tempest

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2622 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Passage: Act 3, Scene 1, Lines 50-90

  1. How does Shakespeare draw distinctive parallels between Ferdinand and Caliban?
  2. Which literary features accentuate Ferdinand and Miranda’s idealistic relationship?
  3. How is Miranda’s character developed through her relationship with Ferdinand?


Passage Summary

Miranda enters the scene where she finds Ferdinand where he proclaims that Miranda’s love, the cause for which he is performing labour, is easing his task. She urges Ferdinand not to work too hard and offers her help, which he refuses before asking for her name. She tells him, despite her father’s best wishes. Ferdinand reassures her that he is royalty, stating that she is the most beautiful woman he has laid his eyes upon. They go on to declare their undying love for each other, with Miranda suggesting marriage as Ferdinand readily agrees. Prospero secretly blesses their love and fully approves of their marriage.

Question 1: How does Shakespeare draw distinctive parallels between Ferdinand and Caliban?

●       Miranda stops her conversation with Ferdinand for a moment as she remembers her father’s wishes against speaking with him.

●       Prospero establishes himself as the superior ruler on the island, Ferdinand is given the same task as Caliban, carrying logs, even though he is a prince.

●       Ferdinand reassures Miranda that he is royality, stating “I would no more endure this wooden slavery than to suffer…” (61-63)

●       The slavery that Ferdinand speaks about, the labour which he is forced to do, is eased by another form of slavery, as he states “The very instant that I saw you did My heart fly to your service, there resides.” (64-66)

●       ‘Slave’ highlights the distinctive parallel between Ferdinand and Caliban.

●       Prospero repeatedly calls Caliban a slave throughout the passage, as Caliban is both a slave to his master as well to his own emotions of anger and hatred.

●       Similarly, Ferdinand is also a slave to his own emotions. However, the slavery to his love for Miranda allows him to celebrate his happiness rather than cuss.

●       This parallel is used to accentuate Miranda and Ferdinand’s relationship, as Shakespeare juxtaposes Caliban’s vulgar features with Ferdinand’s romantic ones.

●       Creates a grateful mood in which the audience is happy to see Miranda sharing her youthful days with the loving Ferdinand rather than Caliban.

Question 2: Which literary features accentuate Ferdinand and Miranda’s idealistic relationship? (Literary Devices)

Many people doubt the genuineness of their relationship as Ferdinand and Miranda fall in love so quickly and largely due to Prospero’s magic. This passage and it’s literary devices argue otherwise, supporting the idea that their love is pure and untainted by Prospero’s manipulation.  Shakespeare paints their relationship as idealistic: one that is genuine and ideal. This is an idea that is unconventional and different from his other plays and the use of literary devices effectively accentuate their “idealistic” relationship

  1. “Hear my soul speak”:

●       The soul is the life inside of someone and is seen as v person

●       Soul can not actually speak but by giving it the ability to,

●       It suggest Ferdinand is speaking from the heart and his words are genuine

●       Personification gives meaning and value to his words

  1.  Ferdinand continues, “My heart fly to your service”

●       Further personification serves to accomplish the same thing

●       Heart is another extremely personal part of oneself

○       Represents love and compassion

○       Heart flying to your service means that he will be there for her physical and emotional

○       By personifying the heart and soul back to back; ferdinand’s love for Miranda is shown as genuine rather than tainted by magic

○       The soul and heart represent much more figuratively and the usage of both leads one to believe he is being sincere

  1. Furthermore, are the implications of the theme of innocence and purity which highlights the idealism in their relationship

●       Miranda is the only woman in the play and she is the very representation of innocence and chastity.

●       The importance of this is shown when she says, “ I am skilless of; but, by my modesty, The jewel in my dower”

●       It is necessary to understand the social context

In Elizabethan England there was strict adherence to purity and chastity.

●       As a maiden, a woman could control her future through her virginity and maidenhood

●       Once virginity was lost before marriage, a woman lost her only stake or ‘value’.

●       The “jewel in my dower” is a clever metaphor that gives a monetary value to her chastity

●       Miranda is essentially a prize because of this

●       Her ‘Modesty’ to Ferdinand is compared to a jewel to a dower

●       This metaphor shows how she understands the cultural and ideological worth of her virginity which supports the idea of an idealistic relationship

●       This metaphor serves to emphasize the importance of her virgin status

●       For love to be ideal at that period in time, virginity was required and Miranda being the epitome of purity, shows the idealism in their love

  1. Furthermore, Shakespeare manages to portray the 2 characters as equals rather than a noble prince and a lowly island inhabitant

●       In those times class differences were given much importance

●       A relationship like such would not work due to their differences

●       “My heart fly to your service, there resides, To make me slave to it, and for your sake Am I this patient log-man.”

●       Shakespeare reverses the roles of the characters, making the noble prince carry the logs; a task normally done by a slave such as Caliban.

●       By giving these lowly tasks to Ferdinand, he is lowered him down to the level of Miranda essentially equating them

●       The reversal of roles reduces the class hierarchy between the 2 dismissing their only major difference

●       A relationship between a peasant and a prince would not be considered idealistic

●       By lowering himself to the level of Caliban, not only does Ferdinand shows the sincerity and extent of his love but also does Shakespeare portray them as equals further supporting their idealistic love.

  1. “What I desire to give, and much less take

What I shall die to want. But this is trifling;”

(Translation : What I want to give you and to take What I’m dying to have. But it’s a waste of time to say so.)

●       Parallel structure and Juxtaposition exhibited in this excerpt, further exemplifying their ideal relationship

●       The relationship between Miranda and Ferdinand is further emphasized as Shakespeare utilizes parallel structure in order to display Miranda’s neverending desire to fulfill every requirement that Ferdinand has and more.

●       The parallel structure breaks the rhythm of Miranda’s speech, so there is greater emphasis placed on the lines where she addresses her commitment towards him.

●       In addition, Shakespeare juxtaposes Miranda’s eagerness to serve all of Ferdinand’s requirements, with her own necessities that must be satisfied by him.

●       The parallel structure provides a clear contrast between the two, allowing the reader to look at each phrase with equal importance.

●       Furthermore she compares her unworthiness of being his wife to her neverending urge to serve him as she states, “At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer” prior to the lines involving parallel structure.

●       Not only does this exhibit the lengths Miranda is willing to reach for an ideal relationship, it entices the audience into imagining a perfect relationship in which both husband and wife are entirely dedicated to each other.

●       Although it can be seen as a simple and static part of the play that provides little importance to the greater plot, it provides a welcome change to the ominous situated relatively in the middle of the play.

  1. The theme of servitude is followed throughout, including the end of the scene. Proposing marriage to Ferdinand, she says that “I am your wife, if you will marry me; / If not, I’ll die your maid. . . . / You may deny me; but I’ll be your servant / Whether you will or no” (83–86).

●       These lines also contain similar parallel structure to the prior example, breaking the rhythm of Miranda’s speech emphasizing her commitment to Ferdinand

●       In addition, this scene attempts to overcome the implausibility of this romance by painting Miranda as an independent character.

●       Shakespeare accomplishes this by portraying Ferdinand as a lower class person, as he must humble himself by doing the tasks appointed to him, while talking sincerely about his service to Miranda, dedicating his whole self to her.

●       A demonstration of Miranda’s innocence is also displayed from the beginning of the play she is brought up as a perfect child, not exposed to anything except her father, nature and Caliban. However, she disregards Prospero words at the beginning of the play, when speaking to Ferdinand about her dedication to him.

●       All of this occurs while Prospero remains in the background.

Consequently, the love story in Tempest, is shown as perfect compared to other works by the author such as “Romeo and Juliet”. It is synonymous with the perfect fairytale story containing the innocent virgin Miranda and the noble Ferdinand who each represent a perfect couple.  There is no conflict between them and in a sense this relationship acts as a calm in the centre of the storm, acting as a symbol of peace & reconciliation; the eye of the tempest.






Question 3: How is Miranda’s character developed through her relationship with Ferdinand?

●       Before this passage, Miranda is merely a puppet to Prospero’s bidding, acting and speaking under the limitations which he sets. This passage is one of the few instances in which she speaks free of Prospero’s influence.

●       Miranda does not simply ask Ferdinand to marry her, she insists upon it, stating “I am your wife if you will marry me. If not, I’ll die your maid, to be your fellow.”

●       Prospero’s raw excitement upon witnessing the events that unfold suggest that Propero has briefly lost control over his daughter, stating “Fair encounter, Of two most rare affections! Heavens rain grace”

●       She comes to a point where her love for Ferdinand trumps her willingness to confine her emotions.

●       Miranda realizes the importance of expressing her sexual desires in expressing her own sexual independence, as she tells Ferdinand “And mine, with my heart in’t; and now farewell.”

●       She uses a metaphor that suggest both an erection and a pregnancy, a pair of sexual and motherly desires brought upon her by Ferdinand, “the bigger bulk trying to hide itself.”, showing that she has gained sexual maturity overtime and is now ready to express it.

●       The naive young lady who for most of the play is controlled by her manipulative father, is momentarily replaced by an independent woman who knows what she wants.

●       However, Miranda’s lines throughout the speech could be seen as undermining the power of her speech.

●       Her pledge to follow Ferdinand, regardless of the cost to herself and her identity, undercuts her independence that the passage had originally given her from Prospero.

●       Dharm’s Conclusion: This scene focuses mainly on the theme of servitude and how Miranda and Ferdinand wholly give themselves to each other. Miranda declares her undying servitude to Ferdinand regardless of his decision to marry her, Her language, reminiscent of the famous saying “till death do us part” suggests the sincerity behind her words and the fidelity with which she speaks.


  • Shakespeare, W. (1914). The Tempest. London: W.B. Clive, University Tutorial Press.
    The Tempest Translation. Sparknotes, (n.d.). Retrieved, from   https://www.sparknotes.com/nofear/shakespeare/tempest/page_110/.


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